Due to COVID-19, you may be unable to engage in activities that may not be essential under shelter-in-place orders, but are still necessary — such as filing for divorce. If you are looking to end your marriage during this difficult time, you may wonder if it is possible to file for divorce online. While there are certain in-person obligations you may need to fill, you can accomplish the majority of this process remotely.
How Do You File for Divorce in Indiana?
Indiana follows a no-fault divorce system, which does not require couples to provide proof that a spouse committed an act of wrongdoing in order to file for divorce. You or your spouse must meet residency requirements to file in Indiana — one of you must have lived in Indiana for the past 6 months, and you must have resided in the county where you are filing for at least 3 months.
In a typical divorce case, you will file your divorce petition with the court in the jurisdiction where you reside and present the papers to your spouse. You and your spouse will either enter into mediation or your case will proceed to trial.
During mediation, you and your spouse will try and negotiate the terms of your divorce, including visitation arrangements for any children, the division of assets, and the division of property. If you come to an agreement during mediation, you can file a settlement agreement with the court. After a 60-day waiting period, the court will finalize the divorce.
In many cases, couples enter into mediation and are unable to come to an agreement. In this situation, your case will proceed to the courtroom, and the judge will determine the division of assets, custody arrangements, and other important matters. The 60-day waiting period applies to trial cases as well.
Online Alternatives for Divorcing Couples
If you are seeking a divorce from your spouse during COVID-19, you can handle most of the process remotely. For example, if you do not currently live with your spouse and need to serve them the divorce papers, you do not have to visit him or her in person to accomplish this. Indiana law allows you to serve divorce papers via certified mail, a sheriff’s service, or a private process server.
In addition, you may be able to submit your petition paperwork via email, by certified mail, or through fax. Contact your local courthouse to determine whether or not they accept these forms of submission and if they have any specific requirements for filing. You may also contact your divorce attorney and discuss your remote filing options.
Many law firms specializing in divorce offer free consultations to their potential clients where they discuss the circumstances surrounding the divorce and the services that the firm can provide. Usually, these consultations take place in person. If you are seeking legal counsel for your divorce, you can schedule your free consultation to take place over the phone or via video chat.
The mediation process can take place remotely as well. With the rise of video conferencing platforms, you, your former spouse, and your attorneys can meet during these video calls to discuss the terms of your divorce. Many of these systems have whiteboard functions where someone can take notes during the course of the conversation, helping you and your spouse better visualize the terms of your divorce.
Even with COVID-19 keeping many businesses remote and many individuals inside, it is still possible to file for divorce during this time. Some activities may require you to visit your local courthouse, but the processes may change as the situation evolves.
Contact an Indianapolis divorce attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options further. If you do have to go outside to complete your divorce, stay safe by washing your hands, covering your face when you cough or sneeze, and avoid touching your face.